Adult social care

Private Member Bills That Are Set To Return In 2020

8 days after the General Election, the day following the State Opening, the ballot was held to allocate the order in which private member’s bills will be introduced to the House of Lords.   

For the first time, the ballot was drawn by students from the Education Centre. 

Private member’s bills are draft laws that have been proposed by individual members of the House of Lords, rather than laws that have been proposed by the Government. 

We take a brief look at the bills that may have an impact on family law. 

 Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill [HL] 

Introduced by Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia 

Date of introduction: 20th January 2020 

With the aim to reduce the costs to divorcing couples when it comes to fighting over financial arrangements, the Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill calls for recommendations from a 2012 Law Commission Report to be implemented. Recommendations included prenuptial agreements being given a ‘statutory footing’ as well as a ‘fair starting point as the equal division of all the property and pensions acquired by the couple after marriage’.  

Formed on the basis of the Scottish system by way of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 1985, the draft bill would aim to ‘encourage parties to reach their own agreements about the financial and property consequences of divorce’ and reduce the ‘trauma to children and the need to go to court’. 

Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill [HL] 

Introduced by Baroness Hussein-Ece 

Date of introduction: 27th January 2020 

The bill looks to increase the minimum age of consent to marriage or civil partnership from 16 to 18 as well as amend the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to create an offence of ‘causing’ a person under the age of 18 to enter into marriage or civil partnership. 

When the question was put to the House of Lords, as to whether the legal age of marriage should be raised ‘in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child’, Lord McNally had stated that the “existing provisions that require parental consent for people under the age of 18 to marry provide adequate protection for people entering into marriage.” 

Marriage Act 1949 (Amendment) Bill [HL]

Introduced by Baroness Cox 

Date of introduction: 3rd February 2020 

This bill would make amendments to the Marriage Act to add provisions for all religious marriages to be solemnised on the authority of a superintendent registrar. 

This would be welcome news to those seeking greater protection for those in faith marriages. 

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Bill [HL] 

Introduced by Lord Roberts of Llandudno 

Date of introduction: 4th February 2020 

This bill would make provisions for unaccompanied asylumseeking children to receive legal advice and for extending the deadline for an unaccompanied asylum seeking child to appeal an asylum decision.   

This follows the Legal Aid for Separated Children Order 2019 that came into force on the 25th October 2019, which also covered unaccompanied children seeking citizenship.  The Order brought non-asylum immigration matters under the scope of legal aid for under 18s. 

Cohabitation Rights Bill [HL] 

Introduced by Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames 

Date of introduction: 4th February 2020 

This much anticipated bill has been in the making for 13 years, and it had been thought that due to the proroguing of parliament and lack of a mention in the Queen’s speech, it would be even longer before it would contemplated again. 

It was back in 2007 that the Law Commission issued a report making recommendations that would afford more rights to cohabiting couples, following up with further provisions in 2011 regarding intestacy and other related provisions. 

The aim of the bill is to ‘address economic unfairness at the end of a relationship’ for cohabiting couples.   

If passed, the Bill would give former cohabitants the right to apply to the court for a financial settlement order and ‘enable courts…to adjust the financial position of qualifying cohabitants on relationship breakdown, so as to spread the financial consequences, benefits and costs fairly between them’. 

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